Case Title: Wilson v Zant
Citation: No. 38278;
249 Ga. 373;
290 S.E.2d 442
1982 Ga. LEXIS 1137
Year Decided: 1982
Facts: In the 1980’s Joseph Wilson Jr. was sentenced to death by the state of Georgia. Wilson was convicted for kidnapping and murder. Three witnesses saw Wilson take a male victim by gunpoint from a witness’ home. The victim was later found dead of a gunshot wound to the head. With the help of witness testimony a jury found Wilson guilty of the crime. Wilson appealed the verdict to a higher court which was denied. He then filed to petition the court for writ habeas corpus. It included a number of charges against the court siting a violation of constitutional rights. Wilson made claims against the integrity of the witnesses, statement made during interrogation, and owning a firearm. The weight of the petition for writ of habeas corpus is the admissibility of his initial statement made during interrogation, Miranda, and right to counsel. Although Wilson was read his Miranda rights and exercised his right to have a lawyer present, counsel was not provided. Despite this, Wilson gave a statement during interrogation.
Issues: Because the statement made by Wilson during interrogation was admissible in court, did this evidence harm his case beyond a reasonable doubt?
Court Decision: The Supreme Court of Georgia affirmed the decision of the lower court. The decision was concurred by all standing Justices.
Holding: The high court determined that Wilson made statements during interrogation without a counsel present at his own free will. Wilson also exercised his right to take the stand during trial to further defend himself in court. Evidence was gathered as a result of statements made during interrogation which further incriminated his involvement. Lastly, when the court allowed the use of interrogation statements during trial, it was not under malicious intent but a harmless error.